National Catholic Register: Taxpayers Paid for D.C. Abortions

This article appeared online at the National Catholic Register on July 11, 2011.

Taxpayers Paid for D.C. Abortions
By Kevin J. Jones

At least 300 funded between 2009 and 2011 when congressional ban was lifted. Americans United for Life counsel: ‘Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for something that is morally wrong.’


WASHINGTON (EWTN News) — Local government funding of 300 abortions in the District of Columbia made taxpayers complicit in a moral wrong that ended lives, pro-life critics said.

When a congressional ban on abortion funding was lifted from 2009 to 2011, the District of Columbia paid for at least 300 abortions at a cost of $185,000 using local taxpayers’ money, The Associated Press reports.

In 2009, President Barack Obama’s administration put forward an altered version of the ban which declared that its prohibition on funding applied only to federal tax money, not funds raised locally. It also expanded the health exemptions under which abortion could be funded.

Mary Harned, staff counsel with Americans United for Life, described the report as “clearly tragic.”

“More women have abortions when covered by public programs,” she said, citing a study by the Allan Guttmacher Institute.

Funding abortions ensures that women will have more abortions “without reflecting on it” because when they realize they are pregnant they can be “rash,” she told EWTN News on July 8.

“Having more time to think it over is actually a good thing,” Harned continued. “It’s not really good public policy to make it easier for them to have abortions very quickly.”

“And, of course, it ends a life,” she added. “Taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for something that is morally wrong.”

Ciara Matthews, communications director with the Susan B. Anthony List, said her organization was “appalled” by the report.

“Overwhelmingly, Americans are opposed to having their taxpayer dollars go to fund abortions.”

If efforts to defund Planned Parenthood are not successful, she told EWTN News, “we run the risk of this happening all over.”

Abortion supporters defended the funding.

DC Abortion Fund’s president, Tiffany Reed, told the AP that being able to use a Medicaid card made getting an abortion easier for a poor woman than at any other time.

Laura Meyers, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C., said it gave the woman dignity, instead of having to collect money themselves.

Myers said the delay in getting funds could mean a woman seeking an abortion will have to get an abortion later, which she said increased health risks.

Matthews criticized these claims.

“The idea that somehow women can only be dignified by having their abortions covered by taxpayer dollars is the furthest thing from a pro-woman stance I can think of.

“As a pro-woman org, the Susan B. Anthony List is dismayed and bewildered at such an outrageous statement.”

Harned explained that an annual rider attached to the funding-appropriations bill, known as the Dornan Amendment, is required to ban the funding.

However, this ban is temporary. Congress could make the funding ban permanent by changing its place in an authorization bill or by passing a comprehensive bill prohibiting taxpayer funding for abortion, like the proposed No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.

Electing pro-life politicians in the overwhelmingly Democratic District of Columbia is “definitely challenging,” Harned acknowledged.

“Funding comes from the U.S. Congress, so as long as there is a pro-life Congress, and the president wants to sign it, then the ban can stay in place.”

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